When it comes to flooring, moisture can cause chaos. Everyone knows spills should be cleaned up promptly. The question is, by the time you clean up the spill, has it seeped into gaps and seams in your flooring? Has it seeped under a heavy piece of furniture or underneath the kitchen cabinets? What about where your floor meets the wall? Do you have baseboards and shoe molding, and did the spill get under them?
Cleaning up what you can see does not mean the spill is completely cleaned up.
If where you live is near the desert or if it’s very dry all year round, a small spill of water that you clean up is nothing to worry about. The thing is, many Americans live in zones that can be uncomfortably humid. Here are the most humid states and cities in the US.
Americans who live in these areas should consider humidity when choosing a floor, even if they never plan to spill anything. Here’s why: water doesn’t have to be spilled on the floor for moisture to take effect. In these regions, the moisture is in the air itself.
High humidity/high moisture can impact the performance, structural stability, and durability of some types of non-waterproof flooring. For example, moisture can seep up from the ground into a concrete subfloor and then up through and in between your flooring materials.
Flooring options vs. flooring systems
In the old days, not too many housing contractors worried about flooring systems. Whether the subfloor was above grade or below grade, made of wood or concrete, as long as it looked relatively flat, it was good enough to lay down whatever floor you wanted. Unfortunately, plenty of homeowners were left with warped floors, cracked tiles, and mold problems as a result.
Today, the flooring materials visible to you are just the top layer of a complete flooring system. And the more humid the climate or the more wet the conditions (like bathrooms and kitchens), the better the various flooring components need to work together, especially if it’s non-waterproof flooring.
Water, pet accidents, and other spills
A little spilled once in a while is nothing to worry about. Pet accidents and other liquids are a different story. For example, even if you clean up a maple syrup spill, if some got under the kitchen cabinet or into any gaps in the floor, you’ll have to set a few more places for breakfast the next morning. When you wake up, the ants will be lined up all the way outside.
Furry friend accidents can be a whole different headache. Some chemicals in pet urine can affect the color of some non-waterproof flooring. Over time, cat urine and other bodily fluids can darken some hardwood floors and get in between the gaps where the odors can concentrate. Even drastic measures like sanding down solid hardwood floors won’t eliminate the odor if the urine has been accumulating long enough.
Pets and number 2
It can happen. Whether it’s in the middle of your kitchen floor or somewhere less-trafficked like the laundry room or a bathroom, our furry companions can leave us little presents, and it’s usually when you’re on your way to work. Hopefully, it’s a quick pick-up, and it’s all over with before you get a chance to think about it.
Unfortunately, if your pet is not feeling well, it might take more work and leave you wondering just how clean the floor is really? If you’ve got a Tea Cup, Pomeranian, don’t fret. However, what if your dog is a little bit larger? Just for fun, calculate your dog’s poop here.
Over the last several years, the concern over mold in homes has grown dramatically. There are over 100,000 species of mold, and although most of them are not considered dangerous to humans, some are, and they can cause potentially serious health issues.
Indoor molds can take hold and multiply under damp conditions. Before we knew much about it, if you saw some black mold, you would just clean it up with some bleach. Now we know that cleaning up black mold sends tiny spores into the air that you then breathe in. That’s why it’s so important to make sure mold can start to begin with.
Waterproof flooring prevents mold
This is, without a doubt, the single most important benefit of waterproof flooring. Waterproof flooring is your best defense against staining, warping, odors, and mold when properly installed as part of the flooring system.
Waterproof and water-resistant
Waterproof is waterproof and water-resistant is not waterproof, but it will resist all kinds of spills and splashes. This sounds confusing because it is. It’s difficult for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to understand the differences between waterproof and water-resistant. For more information on what is actually waterproof, click here to learn more about IPC rating.
Here is a quick overview of some different types of waterproof and water-resistant flooring
This is not your dad’s vinyl flooring. In the last few years, vinyl flooring has made a big comeback, and it’s because technology has revolutionized installation, performance, format, and just about everything else. This includes vinyl plank flooring and luxury vinyl planks.
– Tough wear layer
– Infinite designs
– Many different formats
– Excellent DIY interlocking installation methods
– Mark resistant, waterproof, stain-resistant, sound absorbent
– Definitely pet-friendly flooring
– Compatible with radiant heat flooring systems
– Easy clean up and recommended for dogs
– May hurt the resale value of your home
– Less environmentally friendly
– Depending on quality/cost, it can dull
Ceramic/Porcelain Tile Flooring
This flooring is timeless. It has been used for thousands and thousands of years.
– If installed correctly, it can last forever
– Most choices are waterproof and scratch-resistant
– Easy to clean
– Cool to the touch
– Excellent for warm climates
– Pet friendly
– If you change your mind once it’s been installed, the removal process is very expensive and time-consuming.
– Surface is very hard and unforgiving to anything dropped on it
– Not suitable for all construction methods. Works best with poured concrete floors
A cheap and cheerful choice.
– Low cost
– Easy for DIY projects
– Easy to install and uninstall
– Water-resistant depending on quality/brand
– Loud underfoot
– Long term water damage can occur if not properly maintained
– Slick surface for pets to walk on
Engineered Wood Flooring
It’s a relative newcomer to the flooring world, but engineered hardwood flooring has impressed everyone with its performance and durability.
– Impressive variety of configurations, textures, patterns, finishes, colors, and natural wood elements
– Overcomes the warping and movement all other natural flooring products can be susceptible to
– Extremely durable multi-layered factory finishes
– Warm to the touch
– More structural stability than solid hardwood flooring
– Less expensive than solid hardwood floors but still more than some other flooring options
– Cannot easily be refinished
– Not as suitable for wet conditions as some of the other choices
Here are some other less common examples of waterproof flooring:
Relatively new when compared to some of the more traditional choices. Bamboo is used in a number of different configurations that deliver some excellent performance under most conditions. Some of them employ a click-lock for installation.
Cork flooring has been around for hundreds of years, if not longer. It has excellent sound absorption qualities and provides cushioning underfoot.
This type of flooring stands up to almost anything you can throw at it, including in high-traffic areas.
One Sheet Vinyl Floor
When you’re looking for one of the most waterproof flooring systems, it’s hard to beat one sheet vinyl. That’s why many hospitals choose it.
Waterproof flooring has a new look
Over the last couple of years, new designs and features of waterproof flooring have enabled home decorators and designers an almost infinite number of looks. It’s downright surprising how many new introductions there are, and as always, the performance of waterproof flooring is unbeatable.